Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino has dropped a major hint that the Blues are closing in on the signing of Rennes midfielder Lesley Ugochukwu. The 19-year-old is set to leave the French club on loan following his move to Chelsea, with an agreement believed to be struck between the two sides.

Chelsea’s pre-season has seen Pochettino working around a depleted midfield due to various departures. The likes of N’Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic, Mason Mount, Tiemoue Bakayoko, and Ruben Loftus-Cheek have left the club, leaving room for fresh talent to be integrated into the squad.

Ugochukwu, who primarily operates as a defensive midfielder, would represent a promising addition to the Blues’ midfield ranks. There have been suggestions that the French Under-19 international could spend the 2023-24 campaign on loan with sister club Strasbourg. This move would provide him with valuable experience and the opportunity to learn from former Premier League-winning lynchpin Patrick Vieira.

PSG’s Neymar, left, and Rennes’ Lesley Ugochukwu fight for the ball during a French League One Soccer match between Rennes and PSG at the Roazhon Park stadium in Rennes, France, Sunday May 9, 2021. (AP Guliver Image/David Vincent)

During a post-match press conference after Chelsea’s 2-0 Summer Series-clinching win over Fulham, Pochettino appeared to confirm Ugochukwu’s signing and subsequent temporary exit. When asked about the young midfielder’s plans, Pochettino acknowledged that Ugochukwu was a player from France and could be sent on loan to a different club, but he didn’t elaborate further on the details.

Ugochukwu has already made significant strides in his career, making his first-team debut for Rennes shortly after his 17th birthday and accumulating 60 appearances for the team across all competitions. His performances last season included setting up one goal in 35 games for Rennes, showcasing his potential as a promising young talent.

Mauricio Pochettino press conference, PK, Pressekonferenz Chelsea Head Coach Mauricio Pochettino at a press conference in the Drake Suite at Stamford Bridge, London Copyright: Guliver Image

Chelsea’s pursuit of Ugochukwu came after their efforts to secure Brighton & Hove Albion’s Moises Caicedo were thwarted, with Brighton demanding a hefty nine-figure fee for the Ecuadorian. As a result, Chelsea has shifted their focus to other targets, including Ugochukwu.

The Blues‘ preparations for the upcoming season are in full swing, with Pochettino’s side poised to complete their USA tour against Borussia Dortmund in Chicago. Chelsea fans eagerly await the competitive debut under Pochettino’s management in the Premier League opener against Liverpool on August 13. The West London club’s summer signings are set to add depth and excitement to their squad as they aim to make a strong statement in the 2023-24 season.

Stay tuned for further developments as the transfer window reaches its climax.


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